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A Derryfield double dip: Mayor sees an 'opportunity'

March 17. 2018 11:57PM

Never let it be said that Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig misses a chance to grab some cash.

The city of Manchester and the owners of the Derryfield Restaurant have a pretty good arrangement. The city owns the property, along with the municipal golf course. The restaurant owners have a long-term lease, paying the city 1.5 percent of the gross revenue they bring in. That might not seem high, but the restaurant business is one of the most difficult of retail operations.

The owners just recently worked with the city to extend that lease, agreeing to a minimum monthly payment and an increase in base rent that should pay the city nearly $150,000 per year.

The initial deal was struck long before state-authorized Keno gambling came into being. Manchester OK'd Keno, and the Derryfield Restaurant opted in, figuring it would bring in more business.

Aldermen on the Lands and Building committee were apparently OK with amending the lease to include Keno as a permitted use. But that's when Mayor Craig stepped in.

"I think the city has an opportunity, a responsibility, to the taxpayer to negotiate an opportunity for new revenue. The city should benefit a little," said the mayor.

Notice how she caught herself and changed "opportunity'' into "a responsibility'' before reverting to form and calling it what it is: a chance for more money, even "a little."

She wants 25 percent of the 8 percent cut of Keno revenue that the Derryfield will be paid by the state Lottery Commission. That may not be much, but it was enough to have some aldermen dreaming up ways to spend it. The matter is now back before committee.

Derryfield's owners could argue that the business that Keno brings in will benefit the city through the increased gross revenues in which the city will automatically share.

But we wouldn't bet on that argument persuading Craig, who sees an "opportunity'' to double-dip at the Derryfield.

Business Local and County Government Editorial Manchester

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